15 November 2014

Reduced red tape for ACT businesses

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Businesses in Canberra that sell low-risk foods or pose a low risk to community health including hairdressers and boarding houses are set to benefit from new rules that will reduce red tape and business costs Chief Minister and Minister for Health Katy Gallagher announced yesterday.

“The government is looking closely across a range of areas to see where unnecessary regulation can be abolished to make it easier for people to do business without interference from government,” the Chief Minister said.

“Regulation of food is important to ensure the safety of our community and we are lucky to enjoy a largely safe and vibrant food scene in Canberra but I am keen to make sure that we are always reviewing ways to reduce the burden on businesses, where appropriate.

From 1 January 2015 the $57 administration fee for updating the details of a food business will be removed, reducing costs for the ACT food industry.

The government recently introduced legislation that will remove the requirement for community organisations and fundraising groups to have a registered food-safety supervisor. This legislation will also reduce red tape for businesses that only sell shelf-stable foods such as packaged cereals, breads and long life milk. These businesses will no longer have to notify ACT Health of their operation as we have determined that this level of regulation is not needed to ensure public safety.

The Chief Minister agreed to regulatory changes that will deregulate businesses that have been found to pose a low public health risk, specifically hairdressers and boarding houses.

“The government believes that it is no longer necessary for boarding houses and hairdressers to be registered or licensed. In deregulating these businesses, ACT Health will continue to have the authority to take action if premises are believed to pose a risk to public health.

“I am confident that these changes will make it easier for a number of businesses in the ACT to do their work and minimise their contact with government where it is no longer required.”

The ACT Government is continuing to improve online resources to make it easier for businesses to understand their role in protecting public health. The government will work with industry throughout the implementation of these changes.

Updated food business regulation information can be found at www.health.act.gov.au/foodsafety.

(Katy Gallagher Media Release)

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That sounds like good news for some businesses. Happy days.

To help small and micro businesses even further, perhaps the Chief Minister would like to review the current arrangements in the ACT regarding Workers Compensation Insurance.

If a business employs someone, it must take out a Workers Comp insurance policy for that someone. The period is 12 months, the premium is salary-based and that salary is reviewed every 6 months.

Ballpark, the insurance for a part-timer in retail earning $26k pa costs $660.00 (about 2.5%).
If that someone leaves the employment and isn’t replaced, there’s no refund given for the ‘unused’ period – the insurance companies have a ‘minimum premium’ rule. Isn’t that nice.

I’m told there are 5 insurance companies in the ACT that can provide Workers Comp insurance – and all have this ‘rule’.

No-one’s suggesting that they’re in cahoots or there’s any price-fixing or restrictive trade practices going on or that they have friends in high places. But I am hard pressed to recall the last ACT insurance company that had to close down …

A pro-rata rule seems reasonable and equitable to me. I think it could be done legislatively.

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